The average person spends most of their time indoors, and while most people are aware of the health risks caused by outdoor air pollution, few may have considered that indoor air quality can also have a negative impact on their health. Indoor air pollutants are ranked among the top five chemical hazards to public health. We spend much of our time indoors, so it is vital that we maintain a healthy, toxin-free environment. To do this, you must remove all the chemical hazards in your home.
The Top 13 Chemical Hazards in Your Home
- Home Cleaning Supplies
All purpose and general household cleaners often contain toxic chemicals such as ammonia which is an irritant that can cause liver and kidney damage. Also, they can contain bleach which can burn your skin and eyes, and irritate your lungs, and even oven cleaners and drain cleaners can cause chemical burns and emit toxic fumes that are harmful to your lungs. Instead, use non-toxic cleaning products, or make your own from baking soda and vinegar.
- Non-Stick Cookware
Although the concept is appealing, the chemical hazards just aren’t worth it. Nonstick coating is made of polytetrafluoroethylene which releases toxic gasses that are linked to cancer, organ failure, reproductive damage and other health risks. Instead consider using stainless steel, cast iron, or porcelain coated pans.
- Air Fresheners
Aerosols, automatic sprayers, diffusers, or plugins, it’s irrelevant, petrochemical-based air fresheners are a significant cause of respiratory problems, reproductive problems, congenital disabilities, and are now being linked to diabetes, heart disease and breast cancer. Consider using air revitalisers or air cleaners.
- Insecticides and Herbicides
While pests and weeds may be problematic, the health risk of using these products may cause you to reconsider. Bug sprays often contain cypermethrin, a glyphosate which is a known eye, skin and respiratory irritant which is also known to have adverse effects on the central nervous system. Simply avoid these chemicals.
- Fabric Softener
There are numerous chemicals in fabric softeners, including benzyl acetate, benzyl alcohol, ethanol, limonene, A-terpineol, ethyl acetate, camphor, chloroform, linalool and pentane. Many of these chemicals are linked to central nervous system disorders, upper respiratory tract infections, and various cancers, and they can also trigger asthmatic response. An option is to add a ½ cup of vinegar to the fabric softener compartment in your washer. The acidity level of vinegar neutralises the laundry soap, allowing more residue to wash out in the rinse cycle, and clothes come out softer. Vinegar also removes any odour on clothes.
- Flame Retardants
Flame retardants are used in cushions, mattresses, foam pillows, hair dryers, tv’s, computers, carpets, appliances, fabrics, even your telephone. The flame retardant used in mattresses, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) accumulates in the blood, breast milk, fatty tissue and is linked to liver, thyroid and neuro-development issues. Since most people sleep on average 6-8 hours in their bed, you may consider purchasing an organic mattress.
- Plastic Shopping Bags
It is estimated that only 2% of plastic bags are recycled, and the other 98% end up in landfills or the ocean. Consider using reusable cloth or fabric bags.
- Plastic Bottles
Most plastic bottles are made with BPA, a chemical that is harmful to the endocrine system. When exposed to heat, bottles often leach these chemicals into your water. Instead, use stainless steel or glass bottles.
- Scented Detergents
Almost all detergents contain fragrance, and even those that are supposedly unscented usually contain a masking ingredient to hide the scent. An exceedingly high percentage of chemicals used in perfumes are made from petroleum products, many of which are known to cause cancer, congenital disabilities, and damage to lungs, brain, and nerves. Consider washing clothes in baking soda, or look for unscented laundry detergents without a masking fragrance.
- Perfumes and Scented Soaps
Many of the chemicals used in fragrances are made from petroleum products, which are known to cause cancer, congenital disabilities, and damage to lungs, brain, and nerves. Interestingly, some chemicals commonly used in fragrances, such as toluene, are listed as chemical hazards worldwide. Try using unscented soaps instead.
- Chemical Fertilizers
When it rains, or you water your lawn, the chemical runoff eventually ends up in streams, rivers and the ocean, killing wildlife and destroying water quality. Instead, consider organic fertiliser or compost.
- Antibacterial Products
It is suspected that these anti-bacterial products may interfere with the immune systems of young children, and there are also concerns about the buildup of triclosan in our bodies and our water supplies.
- CFL Light Bulbs
While these bulbs are yesterday’s electricity savers, they contain mercury which is highly toxic, and we strongly recommend that these bulbs be disposed of in an environmentally conscious manner. LED’s are today’s electricity savers and are by far more economical.
Convenience is no longer an excuse to have chemical hazards in your home. It is just as easy now to buy the green equivalent of practically all household requirements.